Dec 28 2009
A Nigerian man’s claim that his attempt to blow up a U.S. plane originated with al-Qaeda’s network inside Yemen deepened concerns that instability in that country is providing the terror group with a base to train and recruit militants for operations against the West.
If confirmed, it would be the second known case recently by the relatively new group, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, of exporting terrorism out of Yemen — a country with a weak central government, many lawless areas and plentiful supplies of weapons. But Yemen, the ancestral home of Osama bin Laden, has long been an al-Qaeda stomping ground.
According to U.S. court documents, a preliminary analysis of the device used by Abdulmutallab showed it contained PETN, a high explosive also known as pentaerythritol. The same material is believed to have been used in the August attack in Saudi Arabia by Abdullah Hassan Tali al-Asiri, who had traveled to Yemen to connect with the al-Qaeda franchise there. PETN was also what convicted shoe bomber Richard Reid used when he tried to destroy a trans-Atlantic flight in 2001.
A video posted online four days before the bombing attempt featured an al-Qaeda operative in Yemen threatening the United States and saying “we are carrying a bomb.”
Anwar Eshki, the head of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies based in Jiddah, said al-Qaeda in Yemen “is stronger than it was a year ago and is turning Yemen into its base for operations against the West.” Eshki’s center closely follows al-Qaeda in Yemen. “There’s no doubt that al-Qaeda’s presence in Yemen is more dangerous than its presence in Afghanistan.” USA TODAY